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April 10, 2014

Committee Questions Comcast Argument

Merger Concerns Expressed by Senators

It would appear Comcast has a long road ahead of it.

After a press release Tuesday stated the planned $45-billion merger with Time Warner would be good for competition and would give users more options, not limit them, the same points were stressed again during testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Comcast’s executive vice-president and chief diversity officer, David L. Cohen, basically read from that press release during his appearance Wednesday.

The points he raised didn’t seem to sit well with committee members.

“Comcast can’t have it both ways. It can’t say that the existence of competition among distributors, including Time Warner Cable, was a reason to approve the NBC deal in 2010 and then turn around a few years a later and say the absence of competition with Time Warner Cable is a reason to approve this deal,” stated Sen. Al Franken.

As reported by CNet, Comcast has argued the controversial merger should be allowed because — though the companies are the two largest in the country — they do not compete with one another in many regions. This would mean, it has been argued, customers would still have ample options for service providers.

It was not just Franken who raised concerns Wednesday.

The Globe and Mail quoted Gene Kimmelman, a former Justice Department lawyer and president of Public Knowledge, who also testified Wednesday.

Kimmelman said the merger would only further “entrench” Comcast’s control of Internet, TV and communications.

“The merged company will have both the incentive and ability to thwart development of innovative Internet services that threaten Comcast’s excessively priced offerings,” he said.

The committee and its members concerns are heard but the final decision on the proposed merger rests in the hands of the Justice Department and the FCC. It’s a process expected to stretch on for months.

The Globe and Mail, though, pointed to telecom analyst Paul Gallant’s estimate that the deal will, in time, be given a green light.

In the article, Gallant said the merger is “likely to be approved because there is at least a mildly positive case for it, and there’s really no obvious anti-trust case against it.”


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W. Brice McVicar is a staff writer for SiteProNews.

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